Culcasi Jim & Rosine HONOREE 2019
James Joseph Culcasi was born in Pittsburg, California to Salvatore and Antonina Culcasi on May 10, 1933. Rosine Louise Costanza was born in Antioch, California to Horace and Mary Costanza on January 16, 1939. Despite their different circumstances of birth, they share a similar heritage – their families hail from the Sicilian towns of San Vito Lo Capo and Isola delle Femmine, and Sicily’s capital, Palermo.
James (Jim) and Rosine would both attend Pittsburg High School, but their paths would not cross until later. After school, Jim enlisted in the army in 1952, and was stationed in Fort Ord – his first introduction to the Central Coast. He served for three years; after an honorable discharge in 1955, Jim traveled across the country, spending time in both New Orleans and Reno. Rosine, meanwhile, would attend Diablo Jr. College in Concord, eventually working at Look Magazine.
It’s fitting that it was an act of love that brought these two together; Jim and Rosine met at a wedding in Pittsburg in May of 1958. He was the best man, and she was the maid of honor. They quickly fell in love and were engaged by August. They married on February 7th at the Carmel Mission Basilica and loved the area so much they spent their honeymoon here.
As husband and wife, Jim and Rosine had grand aspirations for success. They moved to San Francisco, where Jim studied to be a barber and Rosine worked at the business office for Bank of America. Eventually they would move back to Pittsburg, where they had their first child, Annette.
A second pregnancy prompted the couple to move to Monterey, a town they were already familiar with. Their daughter Renee was born soon after, followed by the births of Jim and Stephen, their two sons. Jim Sr. held his own barber shop where he worked, while Rosine baked at Eskaton Hospital.
Despite having different career paths up to this point, Jim and Rosine agreed that they shared a love for cooking and serving the community. After much discussion, they began plans to open a restaurant.
Rosine’s opened its doors at the Del Monte Shopping Center in 1980. With its homemade recipes and focus on quality, the Italian-influenced American cuisine was an instant hit with the locals. It was a family affair from the start; while Rosine would make her soups and pies, and Jim would greet and seat customers at the front, their children helped with the day-to-day operations. Jim Jr. and Annette would take over management of the restaurant, while Renee penned a cookbook featuring their most popular recipes.
When they first opened Rosine's in 1981, they would contribute to the "Loaves Fishes & Computers" non-profit organization by feeding the homeless every first Sunday of the month. They provided lunches and dessert to the Gathering Place for Women, once every month. They continue to donate to them today.
In the past they have contributed to the non-profit organization I-HELP by providing meals for the homeless at Carmel Mission and at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Pacific Grove. They had made several contributions to Meals on Wheels over the years.
In the 1980s, Rosine's Restaurant would open its doors on Thanksgiving Day and provide free meals for the homeless community. Last year, Rosine's made it's first contribution to KSBW's annual 'Share Your Holiday' event, donating a large amount of sandwiches. We will make another donation for this year's 'Share Your Holiday' in December.
In 1986, Rosine’s moved to a new location on Alvarado Street, where it became a staple of downtown Monterey. Now in its third generation of management, locals consistently rank Rosine’s as Best Family Restaurant, and it remains a favorite among the populace. Jim and Rosine have since retired, their aspirations of success firmly achieved. They were fortunate enough to become proud grandparents to seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Today, Jim can be found taking a walk on the streets of Monterey, soaking up the beauty of a city that has given him so much, and striking up conversation with friends both young and old. He is very proud of his Sicilian heritage and will gladly tell the stories of his family’s adventures to anyone who will listen. If you don’t see Jim out and about, he’s probably at home, tending to his garden.
If anyone can match Jim’s energy, it’s Rosine. Despite retiring years ago, she will still get up at 3 a.m. if the mood strikes her to bake her much-beloved meatloaf and fruit pies. Her spirit and culinary passion inspire the current staff at Rosine’s Restaurant to bring their A-game every day. If she’s not baking at Rosine’s, you might find her in her own home kitchen, preparing a mouthwatering dinner for her family.
Years of success at Rosine’s Restaurant led to an appearance on The Food Network, featuring Rosine’s own lasagna and minestrone recipes. It has also allowed the Culcasi Family to contribute to many different organizations across the Central Coast. Some that have benefited from Rosine’s donations include the Children’s Miracle Network, Meals on Wheels, Gathering Place for Women, and KSBW’s ‘Share Your Holiday.’ Rosine’s has been a blessing to not just the Culcasi Family, but the greater community.
Jim and Rosine want to thank the Italian Heritage Society for bestowing this honor upon them.